Why Is The Media Perplexed? Because This Is What Business Looks Like – And They Don’t Get It

I was asked by a colleague the other day for my take on what has been roiling out of the mainstream media as it pertained to the now president, from the previous. In particular to the conversation was his questioning on the way in which the executive order process, along with photo ops, are being conducted. Or said differently the questioning was “Why the pomp and circumstance? I thought that was reserved for the signing into law passed by congress, I thought these (meaning executive orders) were done, basically, in private. What do you think is up with that?”

I thought I’d share my response because it seemed to open up a door in which he had never been privy too. And, by my own view of how it’s being treated and reported on via many in the media – neither do they.

(Please remember this is meant to explain via a business viewpoint and acumen as to maybe shed some light to others, not a some political stance or viewpoint.) Here’s how I replied:

“It’s a good question and observation, here’s how I see it…

This is a classic and well honed protocol for anyone who understands, let alone has been in, a turnaround operation.

The first thing you need to do, with immediacy, is let everyone know, understand, and quell any questions as too who is in charge. That’s first and foremost along with – it must be demonstrated publicly, and again – with immediacy.

This action must come from you – not underlings, not spokespeople, not anyone else. Period.

The second thing which is just as important is this: You must be seen (literally and figuratively) in the light that you not only understand, but more importantly, are personally reviewing and signing off on any changes that are to be made. i.e., You’re not just seen talking about nebulous proposals, or simply approving or signing things in bulk form based on recommendations of others. No: You have to be seen: reviewing, talking, answering, signing, etc. in public. And by public I mean just that: in front of your employees, customers, suppliers, et all. That’s step one, and by my observations that’s precisely what he is doing, and here’s why:

People forget that he’s a billionaire or successful businessman today for one reason, and one reason only: He is a proven turnaround specialist.

That point gets lost on a lot of people. They forget he has been not only “on the cliffs edge.” He’s also been over it. Most don’t recall, or never heard about the exchange he revealed in one of his books between him and his daughter when he spotted a homeless person and he pointed out as to make an instructive lesson to her (paraphrasing): “See that homeless person over there? He’s worth a $Billion dollars more than I am right now.”

He wasn’t being coy – he was telling the truth. People forget just much financial trouble he was in during that period. It was a turnaround worthy for entry into the business textbooks. Personally, I’ve taken cues from it over the years.

So with that said here’s what I’ve been intrigued by, and what seems to have caught your eye but don’t quite know why. The signing ritual is just another form of as I implied earlier: It’s part of the turnaround protocols for “buy in.” Example…

He has the document (or documents) formally brought to him, then: he reads it in silence, and in full view. Then, (and that’s the important part) – signs it.

Then he follows with telling onlookers what it was, what it means, why he signed, and then either a “next!” or, “Thanks for coming, now let’s all get back to work for there’s still much more to do.” Why is this important? Here’s why:

In a “turnaround” situation everybody wants to see you intimately involved in everything. And I do mean everything, for instance:

Banks want to see you reading the expense reports. You reading line by line the payroll numbers. They want to see you not just “in your office” but out with customers, suppliers, on the job sites, on your factory floor, etc., etc., etc.

I know it sounds a lot like “it’s all about you.” However, in a turnaround – you are the focal point. People, and yes even business people, can’t take in everything that may be going on, all they can look to is one person. And that person will be you.

That goes for employees, customers, suppliers, and more. If you think this I’m wrong? I’ll give you another example that fits this mold: Alan Mulally (formerly of Boeing™ then Ford™)

Different employment of style, yes, nonetheless, can you think of anything happening at Ford when he was turning it around that he wasn’t visibly involved with, and as I iterated earlier – publicly?

Remember the famous “meetings” where his wife actually baked the muffins for? You’ll remember them because those “private” meeting were meant to be public as a show of how top management, all the way to the top, were meeting even outside of “just working hours” and trying to hash out, or pound out ways in which a true, bona-fide turnaround could in fact begin, and more importantly – hold. They may have not “intentionally” held them for that reason alone, but again, we remember them, right?

Yes, I’ll admit and point out different styles, yet  – there it is. Just in a different form. Although the effects are the same.

In these types of situations optics can mean just as much (sometimes even more) than the actual progress at any given time. Everyone involved wants to know (at least think or have some form of faith) that you were truly in there personally hammering out details with the others.

If you can instill that? They may just give you what you need to get things accomplished. e.g., The benefit of the doubt.

People are nervous and questioning by default to things they don’t understand. That goes double when it comes to customers, employees, creditors, suppliers, right on down the line when the term “turnaround” gets applied to any current business situation.

And when you’re in a turnaround situation? You are the experiment viewed by all under the microscope. It’s not for the timid I’ll ensure you of that.

What you also have to do simultaneously during that process is something the current president is doing and you’ll see it displayed by others, I’ll include Mr. Mulally as example:

You, as the focal point, not only give credit to everyone under you, but around you, near you, and anyone else who helped you draft, implement, conjure, and more any of the necessary new ideas, requests, or recommendations.

You describe them always as “the best, worked diligently, couldn’t be prouder, couldn’t be more happy with… et cetera.” (Starting to sound a little familiar?)

Even those which may be for the cutting or discontinuation of pet projects, or anything else. Especially those which may already be in mid stream of implementation. Stopping, cutting losses, or a reexamination for possible jettisoning of, and or, all future projects as to streamline and focus is just as paramount (sometimes even more so) than pure growth for growths sake. i.e., Stopping the bleeding can mean more than doubling sales if in fact expenses are still seen as out of control.

Also: Nothing is sacrosanct in a business turnaround. Everything is on the table, and maybe more importantly – if it’s found to no longer fit the current circumstances or vision? It gets thrown over the side immediately.

Nothing is, or can be sacred except for the steadfast hold for solvency. Again – cutting is to be implemented immediately, or as quickly as circumstances or laws may permit. Example: The decision to sell off assets is immediate as in “Hanging the for sale sign.” Finding a buyer might take time.

That’s how I see things currently via my eye. And I would presume anyone with my acumen sees the same, albeit it’s a very specialized view. Now as far as the media is concerned?

They don’t even understand business in most cases. That’s why you see so much consternation coming via their channels. After all, if all you’ve been taught, or believed about business, came from the likes of Paul Krugman? Of course all of this would seem confusing. Which is actually comical.

For that’s precisely how business people feel when they listen to Krugman or most other Ivory Towered academics. It’s all gobbledygook.”

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

(Here’s an addendum to this post for more clarification if wanted.)